How suicide bombings shattered Iraq

The secret files catalogue thousands of suicide attacks. Al Jazeera examines Iraq’s deadliest bombing.

Secret Iraq Files logo

4-1 08:360Initial Report:   At 141930AUG07 1-9 CAV reports 4x VBIEDs detonated in the Ninewah Province, Khahtaniya vicinity 37SGA 4171 0950.  

MTF  UPDATE:  2 x VBIEDS; 1 x small car, 1 x small truck.  The 2 x VBIEDs entered the Bus Station and detonated inside the bus station followed by mortar attack.  

Report:KIA: 344xLN (total for SIGACTS 360 & 364as of 180200AUG07)WIA: 724xLN (total for SIGACTS 360 & 364as of 180200AUG07)DISPLACED PEOPLE: 600 (total for SIGACTS 360 & 364 as of 180200AUG07)MISSING PEOPLE: 80 (total for SIGACTS 360 & 364 as of 180200AUG07)NFTRCLOSED: 180200AUG07SIGACT MEETS MNC-I CCIR#6 #5 ASee 2300D VBIED attack for the total BDA roll-up.

This is the report relating to the single worst suicide bomb attack during the seven years of conflict in Iraq. It occurred on a Tuesday in August 2007, when multiple truck bombs devastated two villages of the Yazidi minority sect.

The Yazidis are considered heretics by some Muslims because they originate much of their beliefs and practices from non-Islamic sources, including a myriad of ancient polytheistic religions.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq was blamed for the attack, which left almost 800 people dead and thousands others wounded. The blasts came in the wake of tensions between the local Yazidis and Sunni Muslims and served a gory reminder to the growing interfaith divide in Iraq.

Ironically, the dispute there is believed to have started with a teenage love story. Du’a Khalil Aswad, a 17-year-old Yazidi girl, fell for a Sunni Muslim man and was accused of seeking to abandon her faith in order to marry him. 

An enraged Yazidi community stoned Du’a to death. A video of the stoning appeared on the internet, and Sunni groups carried out a series of increasingly bloody attacks against the minority apparently to avenge Du’a’s death. 

In the midst of such animosity, al-Qaeda sensed an opportunity to sow further discord between the two religious groups. 

On August 14, four vehicles laden with two tonnes of explosives set out for the Yazidi villages of Qahtaniya and Jazeera. One of them was a fuel tanker, ensuring maximum devastation when the attacks took place. 

The massive blasts flattened buildings, burying families alive across the villages. A rescue attempt was launched , but poor resources meant that some survivors trapped under the rubble were left to die. Hospitals were inundated with those wounded and ran out of medicine in treating the patients. 

“Eighty per cent of the village was destroyed or damaged,” Qassim Khalaf, a rescue worker, said. 

The bombing provoked widespread anger in the country. A US general described the attack as an “act of ethnic cleansing” against the Yazidi community. 

Less than a month after the blast, the US military said that it had killed the al-Qaeda figure believed to have masterminded the attacks.

The conflict
The politics
The human cost
Source: Al Jazeera